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World Class: One Mother's Journey Halfway Around the Globe in Search of the Best Education for Her Children

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An eye-opening firsthand exploration of why Asian students are outpacing their American counterparts, and how to help our children excel in today’s competitive world. When Teru Clavel had young children, the oldest barely two, she watched as her friends and fellow parents vied to secure a spot in the right New York City preschools. Following a gut feeling that a truly world An eye-opening firsthand exploration of why Asian students are outpacing their American counterparts, and how to help our children excel in today’s competitive world. When Teru Clavel had young children, the oldest barely two, she watched as her friends and fellow parents vied to secure a spot in the right New York City preschools. Following a gut feeling that a truly world-class education involves more than the privilege and ennui of elite private schools, Teru and her family moved to Asia, embarking on a ten-year-long journey through the public schools of Hong Kong, Shanghai, and Tokyo. During this time, Teru discovered firsthand why students in China and Japan are far outpacing their American counterparts. In Hong Kong, her children’s school was nicknamed The Prison for its foreboding, austere facilities, yet her three-year-old loved his teachers and his nightly homework. In Shanghai, in a school without flush toilets, the students were kept late not out of punishment but to master the day’s lesson. In Tokyo, her children and their classmates were responsible for school chores, like preparing and serving school lunches—lunches that featured grilled fish, stewed vegetables, and miso soup, not hot dogs and french fries. These schools were low-tech and bare-bones, with teachers who demanded obedience and order. Yet Teru was shocked to discover that her children thrived in these foreign and academically competitive cultures; they learned to be independent, self-confident, and resilient, and, above all, they developed a deep and abiding love of learning. The true culture shock came when Teru returned to the States and found their top-rated California school woefully ill-prepared to challenge her children. Her kids were passing, but the schools were failing them. In this revelatory book, Teru shares what she learned during her decade in Asia, providing practical tips and takeaways to bring the best of Asia’s education and parenting philosophies into American homes and schools. Written with warmth and humor, World Class is an insightful guide to set your children on a path towards lifelong learning and success.


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An eye-opening firsthand exploration of why Asian students are outpacing their American counterparts, and how to help our children excel in today’s competitive world. When Teru Clavel had young children, the oldest barely two, she watched as her friends and fellow parents vied to secure a spot in the right New York City preschools. Following a gut feeling that a truly world An eye-opening firsthand exploration of why Asian students are outpacing their American counterparts, and how to help our children excel in today’s competitive world. When Teru Clavel had young children, the oldest barely two, she watched as her friends and fellow parents vied to secure a spot in the right New York City preschools. Following a gut feeling that a truly world-class education involves more than the privilege and ennui of elite private schools, Teru and her family moved to Asia, embarking on a ten-year-long journey through the public schools of Hong Kong, Shanghai, and Tokyo. During this time, Teru discovered firsthand why students in China and Japan are far outpacing their American counterparts. In Hong Kong, her children’s school was nicknamed The Prison for its foreboding, austere facilities, yet her three-year-old loved his teachers and his nightly homework. In Shanghai, in a school without flush toilets, the students were kept late not out of punishment but to master the day’s lesson. In Tokyo, her children and their classmates were responsible for school chores, like preparing and serving school lunches—lunches that featured grilled fish, stewed vegetables, and miso soup, not hot dogs and french fries. These schools were low-tech and bare-bones, with teachers who demanded obedience and order. Yet Teru was shocked to discover that her children thrived in these foreign and academically competitive cultures; they learned to be independent, self-confident, and resilient, and, above all, they developed a deep and abiding love of learning. The true culture shock came when Teru returned to the States and found their top-rated California school woefully ill-prepared to challenge her children. Her kids were passing, but the schools were failing them. In this revelatory book, Teru shares what she learned during her decade in Asia, providing practical tips and takeaways to bring the best of Asia’s education and parenting philosophies into American homes and schools. Written with warmth and humor, World Class is an insightful guide to set your children on a path towards lifelong learning and success.

30 review for World Class: One Mother's Journey Halfway Around the Globe in Search of the Best Education for Her Children

  1. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader

    Teru Clavel is a mom of young children with the oldest being only two when she fights to get her children into one of the top New York City preschools. Something told her that the position of privilege was not all her children needed to receive a world-class education, so she and her family moved to Asia for ten years. In that time, her children attend public schools in Hong Kong, Shanghai, and Tokyo. Each setting has features that maximize potential. In Shanghai, for example, students stay late Teru Clavel is a mom of young children with the oldest being only two when she fights to get her children into one of the top New York City preschools. Something told her that the position of privilege was not all her children needed to receive a world-class education, so she and her family moved to Asia for ten years. In that time, her children attend public schools in Hong Kong, Shanghai, and Tokyo. Each setting has features that maximize potential. In Shanghai, for example, students stay late until they master the day’s lesson. In Tokyo, her children are taught to cook from a sophisticated menu. A common theme is that the schools are all low tech, and the teachers put a high value on obedience and order. Teru’s children thrive in this type of environment. When she returned to the US with her children, Teru finds the highly-rated California school her children attend cannot challenge them. World Class is a fascinating and insightful take on this family’s experience with education both in and outside of the United States. Teru writes with humor and has an engaging, approachable style. It was a joy to read. There’s no one right way to educate every child, but Teru offers invaluable insight into what worked for her children, and there is much to be learned and thought about here and topics for future discussion and planning. After all, what is more important than educating our children to the best of our abilities? I received a complimentary copy. All opinions are my own. Many of my reviews can also be found on my blog: www.jennifertarheelreader.com

  2. 4 out of 5

    Kaethe Douglas

    Edited to add 06/02/19 Part of my wants to just delete all of the following, but I'll leave it for now. If anyone noticed that my review didn't actually include a review of the book, they were to kind to mention it. Anyway, here's the thing: Clavel gives the reader a little bit of memoir of her own education, a bit of how she came to educate her own children as she did in Hong Kong, Shanghai, Tokyo, Palo Alto and New York.. There is quite a bit about the educational ideologies of different countr Edited to add 06/02/19 Part of my wants to just delete all of the following, but I'll leave it for now. If anyone noticed that my review didn't actually include a review of the book, they were to kind to mention it. Anyway, here's the thing: Clavel gives the reader a little bit of memoir of her own education, a bit of how she came to educate her own children as she did in Hong Kong, Shanghai, Tokyo, Palo Alto and New York.. There is quite a bit about the educational ideologies of different countries and schools and many helpful tips for parents who have the time and resources to pursue the best educational options for their children. There is quite a bit on how egregiously non-democratic the US public education funding scheme is, and some about how disorganized it all is with more than 13k public school systems. There is quite a bit about how Clavel is fortunate enough to be able to provide her own kids with the best possible education, but not in a gloating way: it is recognition of privilege that most American's don't have based on income, race, and the grossly unfair way our system works. All of this is useful, insightful, and good. And then Clavel explains how knowing full and damn well that her kids are privileged and will do just fine regardless of their school, she registers each of them into a private school. That's where it all goes pear-shaped. Please understand, I don't blame her, exactly. Everything in modern American life places the utmost value on parents providing their children with the best possible education. there is a reason why parents are shelling out insane sums of cash to get their children into the best colleges, and while there is a distinction between legal and illegal means, it can be difficult to distinguish them. Morally is there a difference between paying someone to "prep" your child for the SAT versus paying someone to actually take the test? If Princeton Review can guarantee a score improvement from 1150 to 1400 isn't that an acknowledgement that the entire premise of the test is bogus? So Clavel's personal decision is added to that of every other individual American parent and a horribly unjust system is perpetuated because no one who could make a difference has any stake in the game. The Republican and Democratic parties may speak to different constituencies, but both sides make sure to keep their own kids above the fray. *** Clavel begins by setting out her personal education context in the introduction. This seems like a clever innovation that could profitably be broadly applied. So here is my educational context which will end in three asterisks if you'd prefer to skip it. I was born into a career Air Force family, and so moved into my sixth home just after my seventh birthday. Military bases provided day care which my parents happily took advantage of, but which I don't recall. While my father was deployed to Viet Nam we lived off-base and I attended a private preschool in Fort Worth Texas while my mother worked part-time. The following year I was enrolled in public half-day kindergarten in Colorado Springs where I also attended first grade. Then public school in rural western North Carolina for second and third grades. Then private school for fifth through seventh grades (they didn't offer fourth). Another move took me back to public school in suburban Greensboro NC through high school graduation, with half of each day my senior year spent in a magnet city-eide theater program. Then UNC-Greensboro and UNC-School of the Arts in theater with, finally, a bachelor's degree in English from Georgia State University. After years of high grades and good school performance, my grades became erratic starting in eighth grade and continuing through the changed majors and colleges, which should be attributed to my undiagnosed ADHD rather than those schools per se, but with a caveat. My performance was likely to diminish as I encountered increasing personal responsibility for time-management on longer-term projects, that's pretty common. Moving from a school with 100 student spread over 7 grades to a junior high with 1,000 students in 3 grades was incredibly hard. Everything was different: not least going from being only middle class at an affluent 97% white urban school where most parents had college degrees to being near the socioeconomic top in a school with a large rural farming population that was more like 65% white. My education suffered from a distinctly USian problem: local school control. Whereas my best friend at my high school had never been outside North Carolina, it was my second country and fourth state. I have always known that education in this country is manifestly unequal, unfair, and undemocratic. It also has the distinction of being stupid in that there is no specific intention to teach anything, let alone rely on millenia of research on best practices. It is a jury-rigged system that exacerbates every problem of increasing inequality and demonstrates the worst excesses of unchecked capitalism. Parents who choose the home-schooling option are not actually compelled to demonstrate anything: there are guidelines that are meant to be followed, but no actual oversight or repercussions. My educational record is a freaking mess. Atria Books offered me an advance reading copy because I had reviewed The Smartest Kids in the World, a 2013 book discussing education in an international context.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Kelly

    Finally finished this book. The title is not accurate. Unless “World Class” is a step above First Class and those of us in economy class didn’t even know it was an option. Much like most of this book. The author and her family have an enormous amount of privilege. She kind of seems aware of this, but not to the extent that she should. A more accurate title would relate more that this is simply one woman’s memoir of world schooling her kids, who of course are all healthy, abled, and bright. The aut Finally finished this book. The title is not accurate. Unless “World Class” is a step above First Class and those of us in economy class didn’t even know it was an option. Much like most of this book. The author and her family have an enormous amount of privilege. She kind of seems aware of this, but not to the extent that she should. A more accurate title would relate more that this is simply one woman’s memoir of world schooling her kids, who of course are all healthy, abled, and bright. The author led an interesting life to be sure, but her personal anecdotes and experiences do not necessarily qualify as best practices in education, imho. She does offer parental advice sprinkled throughout the book for overcoming issues with your child’s education, such as studying abroad, and hiring tutors for every thing, and no tech is the way to go. The author seems convinced of the superiority of Asian schools to American schools. I agree that their schools can be much more rigorous, but it is very similar to the Finland comparison. It is unfair. American schools are much more diverse than schools in other countries. I don’t just mean racially, but income inequalities, health and poverty all can add up to kids struggling in school. The way our schools are funded would be more simple in a communist country to be sure. Whenever you can just dictate what must be done, it has to be simpler than the democratic processes we labor under. I could go on, but I am sure dear reader than you can see my point. Comparisons to other countries are difficult, and you won’t convince me that way. The be all and end all for all of this is Ivy League schools, and everything she buys for her children, and the work she did as a consultant to help Chinese students be accepted to Ivy League schools here, further separates the haves from the have nots. I believe in meritocracy, I do, but when you can buy a private school education, travel abroad and expose your kids to every life experience, with private tutors for everything- did they really earn that? Or did their privilege buy them a ticket in? To be fair- the author kind of acknowledges their privilege and talks about how unfair it is that American kids have their educational experiences affected by income inequality, but also blames Americans for not traveling out of the country more. Just all around annoying.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Mark Renton

    Teru's journey combines insights not only into Asian education systems and the stark contrast with the United States, but is part travel journal, part parenting manual, and perhaps most importantly, a commentary for our time on the cultural attributes of three modern societies. At a time when political winds have come to question globalism, Teru casts light on two countries which have benefitted most from global integration, while steadfastly maintaining their traditions and heritage. The iPhone Teru's journey combines insights not only into Asian education systems and the stark contrast with the United States, but is part travel journal, part parenting manual, and perhaps most importantly, a commentary for our time on the cultural attributes of three modern societies. At a time when political winds have come to question globalism, Teru casts light on two countries which have benefitted most from global integration, while steadfastly maintaining their traditions and heritage. The iPhone may have been conceived and designed in the United States, but manufactured in China. Japanese manufacturing and industrial conglomerates dominated much of the postwar. Teru reveals the heart of the economic transformation of both countries in their reverence of education, which underlies the human capital necessary to succeed in the traditional economic model of Capital and Labor. In contrast, the United States and its “forerunner”, the United Kingdom, continue to foster some of the best institutions of undergraduate and graduate/research learning, while primary and secondary school funding has dramatically lagged. Her arrival in Asia was emblematic of a traditional expatriate, seeking education for his or her children in a foreign land; but Teru decided to take a radical path to imbue her children with the vibrancy and real world experience of being embedded as local students. This took courage, conviction, patience and foresight.....in contrast to the more privileged expatriate world of the international school circuit. The result was the fostering of a deep multiculturalism in her children, who have the language and societal skills to be more comfortable in Tokyo or Shanghai, than Palo Alto. I share her passion that the world is ever-more interconnected, that the velocity of change is increasing and that the only gifts which we can bestow on our children are a set of values and the best education we can find and afford. Teru brings wit and whimsy, anecdotes and a robust academic research underpinning to all of her work. She wanted her kids to be “worldly, compassionate, in-spired, and passionate about learning......to be exposed to different cultures and develop empathy for different ways of thinking.” I believe she succeeded and in telling her story, some of these attributes may just rub off on her readers.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Renae Lucas-Hall

    I don’t have children but I was keen to read this book because I attended a prestigious private school in Melbourne, I studied the Japanese language and culture as well as French and Italian at university, I taught English to Japanese adults and children for many years, I’ve lived in Australia, Japan and the UK for extended periods and I graduated from two top universities in Australia. Teru Clavel’s candid approach combined with her thoroughly researched suggestions and ideas as well as her fri I don’t have children but I was keen to read this book because I attended a prestigious private school in Melbourne, I studied the Japanese language and culture as well as French and Italian at university, I taught English to Japanese adults and children for many years, I’ve lived in Australia, Japan and the UK for extended periods and I graduated from two top universities in Australia. Teru Clavel’s candid approach combined with her thoroughly researched suggestions and ideas as well as her friendly, conversational writing style was captivating in so many ways, making this book a joy to read. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a parent bringing up children with the best intentions, a teacher, a university professor or a school principal, involved in politics, working for a tech company that provides funding to schools, or simply interested in education and the future of your country (because it’s true, the children are our future) you need to read this book. Clavel shares all the highs and lows of her kids’ educational experiences as well as her own personal evolution in Hong Kong, Shanghai, Tokyo, California and New York over a ten-year period. She says on page xii she wanted “her kids to be worldly, compassionate, inspired, and passionate about learning. [She] wanted them to be exposed to different cultures and develop an empathy for different ways of thinking.” What a wonderful mission statement for a young family! Isn’t that what everyone should want for their children? You may not have the money to travel abroad or give your kids everything Clavel has provided for her family but you’ll definitely learn a lot from her experiences and if you follow her suggestions your children or pupils will definitely become more well-rounded individuals. My interest in Clavel’s story and opinions began when I realised she’d written about her time in Japan but I loved the chapters on Hong Kong and Shanghai even more because they were a real eye-opener for me. It was fascinating to read how enthusiastic her children were about their education in China even though they didn’t have heating at school or a lot of the luxuries Western schools can provide like iPads and sports equipment. Her kids were motivated by the fact their teachers were dedicated to learning without technology to master each subject and it was heartwarming to see how this commitment rubbed off on them. Obviously, Clavel went through considerable hardship and made sacrifices when she lived in Shanghai but her fortitude and strength prevailed and she left this country with tears in her eyes because the Chinese people touched her heart in so many ways. Clavel translated this so well onto the pages of her book and I too felt a lot of warmth towards this Asian country I’ve never visited. In every chapter, Clavel has separate sections in grey with lists full of ideas showing you how to make your experiences with education more fulfilling at home and at school: Ways you can prepare for preschool, how to scope out a new school, how to be more globally minded or how to keep kids challenged in middle school, and so much more. Each point offers you well thought out golden nuggets of information you can absorb and apply to your own life. Clavel is obviously worried about the future of her home country. She believes the US could greatly improve in many areas within the public education sector and thereby the economy by adopting certain standards practised in Asia. Clavel makes comparisons and looks at the troubling statistics between Asia and the US on key factors like bilingualism, a mastery-focused education system and one that’s not, how funding is being spent in schools, the value of meritocracy, how many books children are expected to read, how certain colleges favour sports over academic achievements, how parents could become more involved in what their children are learning and the ways teachers are teaching, what age children should have access to technology and the benefits of learning without technology, the advantages of a growth mindset and the problems associated with adopting a fixed mindset, and how your socioeconomic status and the area in which you live applies to what type of education you’ll get in the US and how unfair this is to so many people. There’s a lot more I could add here but what’s important is how Clavel highlights everything that needs to be addressed and provides the momentum to transform, giving us the tools to do this. This book has the power to change Western society and our economies for the better and to ensure the adults of the future are healthy, sound individuals prepared for globalization and beyond. It’s up to us to embrace this so give this book a go. You won’t regret it.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Patrick

    Full disclosure, I only made it through about three dozen pages before I found the author’s voice so insufferable that I had to give up. I’m a college professor and deeply interested in the theory and practice of education, so the subject matter was what drew me to this book. Little did I know that the author approached this subject from a position of extraordinary privilege. Manhattan apartments, Hong Kong apartments, banking executive husband, live-in servants, a driver, designer clothing, pri Full disclosure, I only made it through about three dozen pages before I found the author’s voice so insufferable that I had to give up. I’m a college professor and deeply interested in the theory and practice of education, so the subject matter was what drew me to this book. Little did I know that the author approached this subject from a position of extraordinary privilege. Manhattan apartments, Hong Kong apartments, banking executive husband, live-in servants, a driver, designer clothing, private schools, international schools, and magnet public schools are only some of the galling tidbits of hyper class privilege in just the first few pages. The most cloyingly sick part of it all is that at the same time she leans deeply into this privilege, she wants the reader to know she sometimes feels guilty about it, she implies a need for forgiveness from the reader for it, and she wants credit when she makes any little move to momentarily eschew it. The moment I stopped reading is when she is so proud of her decision to pull her three-year old son out of international school and put him in a public magnet school in Hong Kong. I guess as a testament to her willingness to stand up for her son’s education, she tells of how she and her husband harangued school administrators to allow her son in after the application period by sitting outside the administrators’ doors for three afternoons in a row. You know, because all parents can miss three days of work to insist their child get special treatment. So, at least for the first three dozen pages, the answer to the education crisis is: be monumentally f’ing rich. She may eventually have good things to say about pedagogy, but I do not believe any of it is worth the 1% garbage you’ll have to wade through.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Kriti | Armed with A Book

    I wanted to read this book because it talks about topics close to my heart. All my school education was in India and I moved to Canada for graduate studies. My passions led me to pursue a teaching degree and I recently spent an amazing time with junior high students during my final placements. The Canadian education system is similar in some ways to the United States, that Teru goes into detail in this book. The Indian education system shares similarities with China and Japan. Through World Clas I wanted to read this book because it talks about topics close to my heart. All my school education was in India and I moved to Canada for graduate studies. My passions led me to pursue a teaching degree and I recently spent an amazing time with junior high students during my final placements. The Canadian education system is similar in some ways to the United States, that Teru goes into detail in this book. The Indian education system shares similarities with China and Japan. Through World Class , I had the opportunity to glimpse education in other countries while making connections through my own experiences, guided by the eyes of a parent who wants to give the best to her children. This is a well researched book and it treads carefully on topics of funding for schools, teacher certification, role of community in helping children learn, mindsets, academic pressure, cultural norms and advocacy. Using research, interviews and personal experience, the reader is provided as much information as possible. The underlying story of Teru's journey through different cultures and their school systems makes this an engaging read that imparts lots of facts, first-hand experiences, anecdotes as well as tips when thinking about one's own children's education. I took away so much from this book, bookmarking portions I would come back to when I am at that stage in life. I also had great discussions with my partner about the things I learned from Teru's journey. I would recommend this book to anyone and everyone involved in education., whether it is as an administrator, teacher, or parent. There is so much we can learn from other cultures and Teru does an amazing job of describing both sides of the coin, since no one method is perfect - everything comes with its pros and cons. Though some of the material is targeted at readers residing in the United States, most of it is general enough to be applied anywhere when looking for the right school for kids or even the kind of environment that would be most conducive at home to their upbringing. I look forward to revisiting this book in the future on my blog and even after. I am thankful to NetGalley, the publisher and, the author, Teru Clavel, for making this book available ahead of publication, and giving me the opportunity to experience her journey in education story.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

    I really wanted to like this book, and it has many good insights, but it has quite a few problems, as well. For one, Clavel is writing from a place of incredible financial and educational privilege and seems mostly unaware of it. The majority of her advice simply isn't feasible for the average working class family. The people who would realistically be able to take advantage of her advice- Travel internationally! Teach your children a second language! Get the NYT delivered!- are the ones who don I really wanted to like this book, and it has many good insights, but it has quite a few problems, as well. For one, Clavel is writing from a place of incredible financial and educational privilege and seems mostly unaware of it. The majority of her advice simply isn't feasible for the average working class family. The people who would realistically be able to take advantage of her advice- Travel internationally! Teach your children a second language! Get the NYT delivered!- are the ones who don't need it. Also, there's a frustrating vagueness in the book on the ultimate purpose of education. Obviously there is no one answer to this, but it does help to know where the author is coming from in this regard, and for me at least, this book wasn't overly clear on that point. It was a good read overall, if a bit rambling and unfocused, but most of her ideas have been covered before. And will be again by other authors, until the United States figures out how to quit sucking so hard at education our children.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Alysson

    This is an incredibly well researched book by education consultant, Teru Clavel. This is a debut novel for her that shares her children’s school experience in Hong Kong, Shanghai, and Tokyo. She also critiques American education. As an educator, I devoured this book! She redefines mastery and talks about everything from class size (class size actually doesn’t matter too much), teacher certs, how anything below 95% is considered failing (America it is around the 65% mark), and so much more. I als This is an incredibly well researched book by education consultant, Teru Clavel. This is a debut novel for her that shares her children’s school experience in Hong Kong, Shanghai, and Tokyo. She also critiques American education. As an educator, I devoured this book! She redefines mastery and talks about everything from class size (class size actually doesn’t matter too much), teacher certs, how anything below 95% is considered failing (America it is around the 65% mark), and so much more. I also appreciated how candid she was when talking about American education and the haphazard curricula, random integration of technology, teacher turnover and the lowered expectations that we are constantly justifying.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Wenyu Zhao

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. While I think the commentary of the difference between Asian countries (China and Japan) and the US is a little one-sided / biased, the book provides great perspectives and more importantly structure and information to form your (as a parent) own process around and thoughts to reflect on. A must read for parents with young children. More on the commentary, as someone who grew up in China I think the compliments provided in the book, albeit nice, reflect that the author has not known educators and While I think the commentary of the difference between Asian countries (China and Japan) and the US is a little one-sided / biased, the book provides great perspectives and more importantly structure and information to form your (as a parent) own process around and thoughts to reflect on. A must read for parents with young children. More on the commentary, as someone who grew up in China I think the compliments provided in the book, albeit nice, reflect that the author has not known educators and students from various cities and backgrounds to make more nuanced observations. The system is far from perfect and many points discussed by the author may not be necessarily true, over time and across regions. Chinese education generally do have the fundamentals nailed down and does its best in instilling principles vertically throughout the grades. Chinese educators are also evolving, borrowing external resources and ideas in to improve and enrich the current ecosystem. Nevertheless, again, this book is still very informative and worthwhile for parents with a global mind to read in great details, take notes (I did, a lot) and synthesize on their own.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Whitney

    Comparing education systems is a well explored topic. However, author Teru Clavel’s book is fresh because it is also a memoir of her own and her family’s experiences in different countries and schools, a parent’s guide to navigating education, and a thoughtfully researched commentary on the societies and educational ideologies of the countries she experiences. Clavel’s unique circumstances essentially allow her to perform a comparative education experiment on her own family as they live in Hong Comparing education systems is a well explored topic. However, author Teru Clavel’s book is fresh because it is also a memoir of her own and her family’s experiences in different countries and schools, a parent’s guide to navigating education, and a thoughtfully researched commentary on the societies and educational ideologies of the countries she experiences. Clavel’s unique circumstances essentially allow her to perform a comparative education experiment on her own family as they live in Hong Kong, Shanghai, Tokyo, Palo Alto and New York. Interestingly, she does this while getting her master’s degree and working in comparative education herself. Her book features inset guides to choosing schools, how parents are involved in education, family values and how you model your family’s commitment to education, tips for prepping for preschool, and other helpful and necessary topics. As the book blurb mentions, this felt similar to Bringing Up Bébé by Pamela Druckerman— but the carefully researched version about education. In that sense, this is a useful book for parents who are looking for how to think about or approach their child’s education, and provides some very useful resources and critical perspectives. There are two underlying themes to her book that are very important— her awareness of the part that privilege plays in education, and her repeated emphasis on needing to find a middle ground. She acknowledges the downsides of the societies and schools that her family lives in, while at the same time highlighting their positives. While many of these East Asian schools could work toward increasing room for creativity and providing greater equity for girls (a societal issue, seen a lot in her experiences in Japan), they also have a lot to offer in terms of how they approach education as a community, among other things. Recent data about the 2012 PISA test further supports her perspective on how these schools teach math. As a teacher who sometimes gets tired of all the comparisons with Finland, and as a parent who sometimes gets tired of all the comparisons with France, such an in depth and personal look at education in these countries felt enlightening and refreshing. Clavel’s discussions of the need for children to be bilingual and bicultural are persuasive and necessary. Additionally, within education she explores numeracy and the very relevant topic of mastery, making arguments for an increase of both in the United States school system, which is strengthened by her perspective of being in education systems abroad that are successful with both. In fact, this— along with her discussion about teachers, school lunches and use of technology in the classroom— felt like the sharpest reproach of United States education. While I disagree with her on students learning to code— I think this is an empowering, engaging, and increasingly necessary skill— I can’t help but agree with her about teachers. Beginning in highly selective teacher education programs, to paying teachers the equivalent of other professionals with the same amount of training, to the investment in professional development and training which has the biggest returns, Clavel’s research is thoughtful and her writing is passionate. The experiences she shares with her family in places that are foreign to stateside readers— Hong Kong, Shanghai, Tokyo— are at times hilarious, moving, impressive, and fascinating. She follows her son on a walk home from school in Tokyo, unknown to him. She makes friends. She experiences norms of expat culture, and is in turn shocked and pleased with the things her family encounters in the cultures and local schools they become a part of. This book fills a gap for parents, teachers, and anyone who feels deeply the importance of education. An advanced reader's copy was provided by the publisher. Thank you!

  12. 4 out of 5

    Abdulahi Dohe

    Easy to Read - Quality Content Enjoyed this read. It opened my mind on a lot of issues on education and educating children. Recommend for every parent.

  13. 4 out of 5

    James

    Teru Clavel gives the reader a fascinating journey through the education systems of 5 cities in 3 countries along with an entertaining and compassionate personal memoir. She has a witty and self-depreciating style that allows us to watch her grow as she moves from a seemingly selfish and cut-throat New York where parents fight for spots at elite pre-schools so their kids can get into Harvard, to egalitarian China and the collective culture of Japan, and back to wealthy but dysfunctional Palo Alt Teru Clavel gives the reader a fascinating journey through the education systems of 5 cities in 3 countries along with an entertaining and compassionate personal memoir. She has a witty and self-depreciating style that allows us to watch her grow as she moves from a seemingly selfish and cut-throat New York where parents fight for spots at elite pre-schools so their kids can get into Harvard, to egalitarian China and the collective culture of Japan, and back to wealthy but dysfunctional Palo Alto. Along the way she gives her insights into selecting and working with your children’s schools and providing the best educational environment at home in the form of practical tips interspersed in the text. The contrasts between the US and Asian approaches to education and parenting are striking and eye-opening. Clavel provides a very well researched and thoughtful analysis of why the choices made by the US education system and US parents fail to provide a world class education for our kids, particularly those in poorer neighborhoods. She details how our school funding model places too much burden on the local community by providing just 10% of funds from the federal government vs. China and Japan where all schools are well funded and poorer schools actually get more resources not less. In addition, the teaching profession in Asia is highly regarded and trusted – being a teacher is a revered position and parents trust them to put their children’s needs first. The third key theme in the book is on the individual and collective approach to parenting. Not only are there much higher academic expectations placed on kids in Asia vs the US, but perhaps surprisingly Asian societies apparently foster self-reliance in their kids. Children are taught mastery of every subject regardless of natural proclivity, and academic success in school is valued by children and parents alike rather than sporting accomplishments, family wealth or social skills. By contrast, in the US we seem to think it’s ok to be bad at math because every child is special in their own way, and we advocate for our children in a manner that is both dis-empowering and dis-incentivizing for them. This was a personal read for me as I have raised my three kids in 4 cities on 4 continents and I wish I had had this book to guide me through the complex decisions that come with selecting and working with schools, and helping my children thrive in education. I felt somewhat shamed by the contrast between my own haphazard approach to schooling and parenting and Clavel’s clear, well thought out method. She translates her passion and rigor for the education of her own children into a well-considered treatise on what we need to do in the US to prepare the next generation for the global competition that they will face. This is a very timely book as we consider the US’s place in the world as a country and think about how we will maintain our current leadership position. It’s a cliché, but our children are our most precious resource and we need to use our considerable resources to educate them all better than we currently are.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Sarah Bidwell

    I want my kids (both my own and my students) to understand the purpose of their education. It was for this reason I put “World Class” by Teru Clavel on my summer reading list. From the book’s description I knew I would read about a Mother’s journey with her children and their schooling in the US and abroad. What I did not know was how spot-on, well-researched, and relatable this book would be. World Class is the heart-felt narrative of a mother, the author Teru, and her three children. Over the c I want my kids (both my own and my students) to understand the purpose of their education. It was for this reason I put “World Class” by Teru Clavel on my summer reading list. From the book’s description I knew I would read about a Mother’s journey with her children and their schooling in the US and abroad. What I did not know was how spot-on, well-researched, and relatable this book would be. World Class is the heart-felt narrative of a mother, the author Teru, and her three children. Over the course of 10 years the family moved from NYC to Hong Kong, then to Shanghai followed by Tokyo. They then returned to the US where they lived in Palo Alto, California before finally returning to NYC. But you would be wrong to assume this book is a simple memoir. The author’s children were young enough to begin their schooling while the family was traveling. This gave Teru a unique perspective on the education process. I was fascinated to learn of the high-stakes preschool admissions in NYC and the bare-bones schools in Shanghai which valued educational attainment above socio-economic or legacy status. Teru’s journey allowed her to see, and then thankfully share with us, how schools in five different cities (in 3 countries) educate their citizens. This information is priceless for teachers and parents. I teach World and American history. My children are 14 and almost 3. Through this lens, I recognize children must understand their international competition to be successful in an increasingly global economy. I also know it is essential for our next generation to be civic-minded to protect our nation’s best interests and maintain our status on the world stage. As the saying goes - we are only as strong as our weakest link. The author is clearly supportive of American schools and teachers, but also recognizes (and calls out) the holes she sees in our vast education system. Until those holes can be patched by policy, she provides many practical strategies and countless takeaways to implement in your community, school, and even at home. Her call-to-action is simple: don’t wait for someone else to do it. It’s not rocket science. The world is everyone’s classroom and we can all do things to support our next generation. Overall, I have no hesitation recommending this book as required reading for in-service and pre-service teachers as well as parents. This perspective is sorely lacking in teacher development. Travelling with children is difficult and often not possible, but as you are on Teru’s journey with her family, you will come to fully understand the importance of her message - and why we need to support all children in getting the best education possible - both at home and at school.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Kat

    As I read this book, I absolutely enjoyed the journey with the author. Teru and her family left their hometown New York to live in three different cities in Asia. I, as a mother of two grown-up children who have gone through a transition from Japanese to American school system, can imagine how hard it must have been for her children to get acclimated to new cultures and eventually thrive in those systems. Her story depicts their transition process with candor and humor - from shock and concerns As I read this book, I absolutely enjoyed the journey with the author. Teru and her family left their hometown New York to live in three different cities in Asia. I, as a mother of two grown-up children who have gone through a transition from Japanese to American school system, can imagine how hard it must have been for her children to get acclimated to new cultures and eventually thrive in those systems. Her story depicts their transition process with candor and humor - from shock and concerns to achievements and lifelong friendship they built in the host countries. I was proud of or worried about Teru’s children when she was. When they were leaving Shanghai, I was tearful when her Chinese friends were. I believe every reader would enjoy meeting the family by reading this book. With all the academic suggestions and educational tips, it is a book that many parents would appreciate and that I myself wanted when my children were younger. I was struck by Chinese teachers’ dedication for students’ mastery, the fact that “’No Child Left Behind’ is reality” in Shanghai. I totally agree with Teru that students would keep learning where teachers/parents had high expectations, and that “part of a growth mindset is seeing value in failing”. When she compared Japanese and American systems as to how schools are funded, I realized how fortunate Japanese students were. The way public schools are funded and teachers are assigned in Japan are something I had taken for granted. I also thought there should be things the US system can offer for other countries to learn from. Some, including Japan, might benefit from the civics education the author proposed, for example. I loved the way Shanghai changed Teru, how she embraced the cultural differences and realized her identity as a mother, and that she shared the values she had discovered. Her passion for education in choosing the best possible education for her children in wherever the family lived despite all the inconveniences; her compassion for the underserved student populations and her belief that everyone must thrive; travelling across the US to visit schools/school districts of excellence… It seems to me the extraordinary set of varied educational experiences both as a student and as a parent puts the author in a position to propose the shape of education her country should seek. This is a monumental work.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Nina West

    When I started the book, I admit to being a bit skeptical about what I would gain from the author’s experience educating her children abroad. After all, when I was raising my children, there were only so many school options. At our American public suburban school, I couldn’t imagine having much power to influence the educational experience for my elementary school aged children. However, once I got into the book, it was clear to me that there was a lot to learn here. By the middle of the book, I When I started the book, I admit to being a bit skeptical about what I would gain from the author’s experience educating her children abroad. After all, when I was raising my children, there were only so many school options. At our American public suburban school, I couldn’t imagine having much power to influence the educational experience for my elementary school aged children. However, once I got into the book, it was clear to me that there was a lot to learn here. By the middle of the book, I had put aside whatever my misplaced biases that I may have had about a non-western education and really started to look closely at what the author was saying. She writes persuasively about the benefits of more rigorous academic standards in the classroom in Asia. Not simply rote memorization and constant testing but rather a hybrid approach that emphasizes both conceptual thinking as well as fact-based learning. The author provides many concrete ideas based on her experiences in Asian public schools, many of which would be easy for parents or caregivers to implement outside of the classroom. The book is far from being a dry, instructional manual. Although it is full of rigorous academic research and nuanced analysis, Teru Clavel is also a vivid story teller. She has written a personal narrative of her family's experiences in the educational systems of Hong Kong, Shanghai and Tokyo, and then back to America, along the way providing wonderful anecdotes about life as ex-pats, the good and the not so good. As I finished reading the last page and closed up the book, I took a minute to think about how important it is to get out of our western mindset. I now realize how much we have to gain from understanding the educational systems outside our own. As global citizens, we really can’t afford not to look outside the American way of educating our children. There are lessons to be learned everywhere. An eye opening and important read. My friends are reading it too and loving it.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Annie Pasma

    I enjoyed learning about other educational systems. Although not in education myself, it is something I am interested in learning more about. There were many things that I can appreciate about the Asian educational system. For one thing, mastering the basics IS key when learning anything. The deductive reasoning, especially for math class, makes no sense whatsoever. How you deduce anything if you don't know the basics first? As I said, I liked learning about other educational systems and I can o I enjoyed learning about other educational systems. Although not in education myself, it is something I am interested in learning more about. There were many things that I can appreciate about the Asian educational system. For one thing, mastering the basics IS key when learning anything. The deductive reasoning, especially for math class, makes no sense whatsoever. How you deduce anything if you don't know the basics first? As I said, I liked learning about other educational systems and I can only imagine how well implementing some of Asia's tactics such as less technology in the classroom and mastery of the basics would do for American students. But overall, I found her to be rather naive about some things. She doesn't take into consideration that in the Asian education system there is no room for kids with autism or mental disabilities. And of course it is easy for communist countries to tell schools how to run and what curriculum they should use. I felt too, that this book was aimed toward women who are in stable homes (which is not a bad thing), who can BE involved in their kids educational journey. She is right in that in order for kids to thrive they need parent involvement and need it heavily. Her solution for those who do not come from stable homes? Federal funding. Because so much of the funding comes from the state, there doesn't seem to be enough in the underprivileged areas. But if her OWN solution of less technology, less expensive equipment, less expensive textbooks were to be implemented, wouldn't state funding be enough? Honestly, overall I liked this book. I agree with quite a few of her observations (one of the biggest is that for profit companies needs to be out of the business of writing textbooks) and I would like some of the tried and true tactics to be put in place in American classes. Her and I would just likely come to different conclusions and solutions.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Yuriko

    I had my oldest son in poverty. He got into a gifted school, and sometimes as a young mother people give me attitude and look down on me. They assume I abused the welfare system or had some advantage as a low-income person to get in. When they realize my son was not admitted based on income but on pure test score, they are puzzled. What I really did is much of what Teru discusses that happened in China-I made the very best out of little resources. I recommended this book to a friend in Seattle w I had my oldest son in poverty. He got into a gifted school, and sometimes as a young mother people give me attitude and look down on me. They assume I abused the welfare system or had some advantage as a low-income person to get in. When they realize my son was not admitted based on income but on pure test score, they are puzzled. What I really did is much of what Teru discusses that happened in China-I made the very best out of little resources. I recommended this book to a friend in Seattle who is originally from Japan. She agreed with a lot of Teru said. This book is very valuable and if you read it with an open mind, you will appreciate the lessons learned. It is not just about reading the book but understanding how you can use her experiences as a context to learn from. I am happy that she used her experience living overseas to contribute to writing this book so that we can all benefit and learn from her experiences. There is very good advice in this book if you are reading it using critical thinking. This is actually one of the best books I have ever read. It is important for people to know what is happening in other countries. I have always been wondering what they do in other countries and I am so glad someone who understands different cultures and has lived there as an American wrote this book. Great job Teru! You are my favorite author. I even follow her social media now, her work is so invaluable and underappreciated. I have friends reading this book who absolutely adore it.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Grace

    I am not a parent. In fact, I am a millennial. I may even be closer in age to her children then to the author herself. But I found this book fascinating and relevant to my own life. It is fun and exciting to read because of the many anecdotes and personal stories (the author lived in many cities and cultures described throughout the book), and yet it is full of moments of discovery for a reader, from research about the American education system (the importance of “global competence” is introduce I am not a parent. In fact, I am a millennial. I may even be closer in age to her children then to the author herself. But I found this book fascinating and relevant to my own life. It is fun and exciting to read because of the many anecdotes and personal stories (the author lived in many cities and cultures described throughout the book), and yet it is full of moments of discovery for a reader, from research about the American education system (the importance of “global competence” is introduced, a concept I knew nothing about previously) to a unique perspective on how to raise smart, curious, independent kids, with well-founded and implementable advise. It is not run-of-the-mill parenting advise - the author has a new take. It was hard to put this book down. Teru’s story is eye-opening, and on top of all that, she is candid, funny, and does not take herself too seriously (which is refreshing). I would recommend this book to young professionals, parents, teachers, anyone interested in learning about Asian culture, or simply, anyone looking for an entertaining and informative read.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Lawrence Goodman

    "Must read" if you are an expat parent in Asia or an educator in the United States. This book answers questions about how they do it. It also should be of great interest to any American wanting a first hand view of how Chinese and Japanese cultures compare with American culture. It's a good read filled with experienced based advice.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Brian Platzer

    World Class made me see education in an entirely new way. It was well-researched, compellingly argued, and entertaining from the first page to the last. Clavel illustrates her perspective with stories from her own life and evidence from others'. As a parent and teacher, I was riveted to every page.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Bakertyl

    As a high school teacher in America, this eye-opening memoir is inspiring and frustrating. I knew conceptually how other countries educate their next generation, but seeing it through the eyes of someone who lived and actively studied it tells me I can do so much more for my students.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Red

    It was ok. It was hard to relate since I do not think I will ever have my children educated in China or Hong Kong.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Xiaochao Zhang

    It was fun reading. Also as an Asian mom rising kids in the US. I feel so connected.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Marks54

    I generally do not like memoirs. This is especially the case with memoirs by parents about their experiences in raising and especially educating their children. With the best of intentions, it is difficult to even confront the limitations of perspective and potential biases that arise when you are considering the education of your own kids given the wide range of educational experiences available in the US today. Everyone has their stories. Ms. Clavel has located her story in a “sweet spot” for d I generally do not like memoirs. This is especially the case with memoirs by parents about their experiences in raising and especially educating their children. With the best of intentions, it is difficult to even confront the limitations of perspective and potential biases that arise when you are considering the education of your own kids given the wide range of educational experiences available in the US today. Everyone has their stories. Ms. Clavel has located her story in a “sweet spot” for discussions of education today. Look at the countries that do well in the international education league table and then look at the US. How is it that with all of its know how and resources the US is firmly stuck down in the rankings relative to star country performers like Japan, Korea, Finland, and China (especially Shanghai)? Ms. Clavel is an American of Japanese descent who has maintained her Japanese language and has traveled widely. Her husband is a banker who speaks Chinese and travels abroad as part of his work. The book chronicles an extended journey during which she moves with two small children (later three) to Hong Kong, Shanghai, Tokyo, Palo Alto, and finally back to New York. So the structure of the book is that of an extended journey that comes full circle. During this odyssey, she engages with the needs and pressures of educating her children in local schools and she generally can choose any option she wishes So she gets to have her children educated by top Asian schools, while constantly attentive to what is going on - and then must compare those experiences with her later encounters with US schools in Palo Alto. Spoiler alert - the US schools are weighed in the balance and found wanting. What’s a mother to do? In the course of the book, a wide range of educational principles and practices are examined and discussed. This is the most valuable portion of the book to me and Ms. Clavel does a fine job. The end of the book is more disappointing, however. The difficulties with US schools are well known and the author does not add much in her coverage that I could see. Moreover, given that the front end of the book is oriented to the highly positive Asian experiences, it would have been interesting if she had taking a swing at how the US schools could possibly work to mimic positive Asian characteristics. Some, of course, do mimic those characteristics, but the discussion she presents is almost solely in terms of totals of outcome scores, without much indication of how the administrators and parents at such schools brought about their results. The mechanics of change are issues here - otherwise the so-called solutions are little more than redefining problems in the form of solutions. It is hard to tell what has been learned at the end when, back in NYC, the children end up in private schools that work hard to meet the childrens’ needs. Shocker! That is what these schools do. US parents long have recognized that it is possible to get quality education for children if one is able to pay. That sums up the whole problem of inequality in educational opportunity, doesn’t it? This book is much more informative and insightful than I expected at the start. Ms. Clavel is smart and thoughtful and over the course of her time in Asia, she began putting her thoughts to paper on educational topics and even pursued graduate studies in education. So this book is a sort of masters thesis to help make sense of her experiences. That helps in making the book more effective. Stylistically, the book mixes the narrative with digressions into educational research and some lists of recommended practices. This tends to work as an organizing approach, although some of Ms. Clavel’s tables are a bit over the top. Shorter lists will be more effective. Overall, this was a good first book and generally got the author’s points across. She will get better as she writes more books, which I hope she does. This one is worth reading.

  26. 5 out of 5

    J

    I love/hate this book. Some sections were 5-star, others were 0 stars. 3 is the middle rating, but this book certainly was not average. It might make a good book club book because it is sure to provoke opinions! There are sections I love: an educated woman talking about thoughtfully making the best choices for her children. Exploring other cultures for parenting and education practices. There were some sections that terrified me: Her radical political views are interspersed with her writing in hea I love/hate this book. Some sections were 5-star, others were 0 stars. 3 is the middle rating, but this book certainly was not average. It might make a good book club book because it is sure to provoke opinions! There are sections I love: an educated woman talking about thoughtfully making the best choices for her children. Exploring other cultures for parenting and education practices. There were some sections that terrified me: Her radical political views are interspersed with her writing in heavy doses. For example, this ivy-league educated woman seriously believes that government owes it to its citizens to use education as a significant tool in wealth distribution. She believes that if children end up earning similar salaries to their parents, then society has failed. Families and local communities should have no effect on the raising of children in her educational utopia. Additionally, she claims that anything less than "equitable resources" (taking money out of the education funds in wealthy communities to fund education in poorer communities) is injustice. Apparently, shared federal funds are not enough. She thinks state and local taxes need to be given to other states/cities as well. (page 13) In some sections, her analysis is crisp and interesting. In other sections, she seems to miss the elephant in the room completely. My biggest issue was the author's unchecked presumptions and lack of awareness of her own "privilege" - to use her own liberal term. She has a ton of educational and financial resources unavailable to the average person, a totally nutty worldview and then tries to tell others how they should behave. The shaded advice boxes interspersed in the book were particularly gulling and I had to skim/skip them. It was just too self-righteous, particularly after just reading a chapter full of her crazy personal behavior. This book was like literary junk food to me. I enjoyed almost every minute, even while reading passages to my husband to show him how nutty the author was. My husband finally told me to stop reading it, if I really didn't like it. But it was kind of addictive and I enjoyed disliking it... if that makes sense. I also genuinely enjoyed seeing how educational systems work in other countries.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Cheri Blomquist

    I read this book quickly and enjoyed it very much. It is similar to Little Soldiers, by Lenora Chu, and really made me think about the state of U.S. education in comparison to the world, as well as the ideals of a global vs. national focus. It was fascinating to see the differences in educational systems between Hong Kong, Shanghai, Tokya, and Palo Alto (CA). Still, I gave it three stars for a couple of reasons. First, structurally it threw me off at the end. She took her time with sharing her st I read this book quickly and enjoyed it very much. It is similar to Little Soldiers, by Lenora Chu, and really made me think about the state of U.S. education in comparison to the world, as well as the ideals of a global vs. national focus. It was fascinating to see the differences in educational systems between Hong Kong, Shanghai, Tokya, and Palo Alto (CA). Still, I gave it three stars for a couple of reasons. First, structurally it threw me off at the end. She took her time with sharing her story until the end, when suddenly she sped up like one might speed up a record player. I was left confused with "But what about...?" questions, and I wondered if there was more to the end of the story than she wanted to share with the public. Second, her idea that submitting to Communism is a fair trade for a good education disturbed me deeply because it is so dangerous and blind. Third, although I know that American education needs a LOT of improvement and can certainly take lessons from China and Japan, I felt like she was constantly critical of America instead of considering our strengths more in her comparisons. Worse, she--like Lenora Chu--seemed unaware of classical education, which is Western civilization's answer to the education she prized so much in China and Japan. Although I don't mind either of them preferring Eastern education, they should have shaped that preference with a complete understanding of Western education. It bothers me that with all their educational knowledge, they overlooked the Western counterpart that was in place for many centuries until only about a century or so ago and that required intense discipline and study. This might be a moot point except that classical education is currently making a comeback in some school and in the homeschooling world and should have entered into their critical analysis.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Jon Keeling

    Teru Clavel weaves together a useful combination of education research, personal experience dealing with school systems in several international locations, and a colorful description of family life in various places and circumstances along the way, offering advice to other parents based on her research and experience traveling the world in search of superior education opportunities for her kids. As a teacher for 35 years, and having a passion for improving my own teaching skills and training oth Teru Clavel weaves together a useful combination of education research, personal experience dealing with school systems in several international locations, and a colorful description of family life in various places and circumstances along the way, offering advice to other parents based on her research and experience traveling the world in search of superior education opportunities for her kids. As a teacher for 35 years, and having a passion for improving my own teaching skills and training other teachers in how to enhance their skills, I have become quite frustrated with the current state of the public school system in the US, which I consider to be far behind its potential. Like Ms Clavel, I also grew up in CT/NY and Tokyo, have spent time in China and I currently live and work in the Palo Alto area. So I can relate to all the experiences she describes in this thought-provoking book. But even for those readers without these parallels, if you are interested in getting some perspective on education and life in general in these various locations, as well as what life outside of school is like, Teru Clavel does a great job pulling the reader in through her personal stories and insightful perspective. Interspersed with the stories of her and her family, Ms Clavel provides data from research as well as her own advice on how to make the most of educational opportunities for your kids; what sort of questions to ask prospective teachers and administrators, what sort of help to consider providing your kids outside of school, etc. If you want to get a better idea of how schools and life outside of school differs in a variety of places in Asia and the US, read this book.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth

    Teru Clavel's World Class is an incredibly insightful book about childhood education that I believe should be at the top of any parent's reading list. Teru takes us on a global journey from New York City, with its intense private pre-school admission process to Hong Kong, Mainland China (Shanghai), Tokyo and back to Palo Alto, California, as she raises three young children in the public school systems of these major global locations. World Class focuses deeply on comparing the educational system Teru Clavel's World Class is an incredibly insightful book about childhood education that I believe should be at the top of any parent's reading list. Teru takes us on a global journey from New York City, with its intense private pre-school admission process to Hong Kong, Mainland China (Shanghai), Tokyo and back to Palo Alto, California, as she raises three young children in the public school systems of these major global locations. World Class focuses deeply on comparing the educational systems of these locations, but Ms. Clavel does not let the book get bogged down in academia. Her writing is wonderful, and her anecdotes of expat life abroad with her family make the book a delight (such as her directing the family driver onto a roof in Hong Kong with her tennis racquet to vanquish a supposed burglar). Most helpfully, she includes in each chapter's conclusion a series of clear recommendations for parents to apply. I strongly recommend this book to new parents who are wondering what path to take with their child's education as well as those who are wondering if they have chosen the right path for their kids. It is also a fascinating "on the ground" cultural study of five globally "elite" cities (NYC, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Tokyo and Palo Alto). Based on my personal experience, my favorite bit of parenting advice in the book was the following: "Read. Read. Read. All the time to your child. From an actual paper-bound book. And discuss, even when you think she can't yet. Make eye contact, and use expression."

  30. 4 out of 5

    Valerie

    I found the book very interesting for the discussion of different school models in China and Japan, as well as some of the examples of schools here in America. While I am not sure I agree with everything she says, I think she had a lot of good points. Ultimately, the main takeaway from the book is that you need to be very mindful and on top of what your children are learning and how in school. I think the most interesting dichotomy was her perspective about being able to rely on the teachers in I found the book very interesting for the discussion of different school models in China and Japan, as well as some of the examples of schools here in America. While I am not sure I agree with everything she says, I think she had a lot of good points. Ultimately, the main takeaway from the book is that you need to be very mindful and on top of what your children are learning and how in school. I think the most interesting dichotomy was her perspective about being able to rely on the teachers in China and Japan but having to rely on herself here. Based on my perspective as a parent, I think that is generally how it is for all aspects of child rearing here. If you are lucky, you have networks of other parents and resources to get help or advice from but, for the most part, it is up to you to make sure your child gets what they need from school, from the pediatrician, etc. So I appreciated her suggestions on ways to supplement education here. However, the way that the book ends, by her ultimately choosing a private school for her kids and her lack of concrete ideas to take action to address our broken school system and its funding sources, just reinforced this notion throughout the book that in the end, we are pretty much on our own as parents, which is disappointing.

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